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New Taiwan pacts cover trains, drugs, patents, e-deals, rescues

Kyodo

Taiwan and Japan have signed five mostly trade-related pacts in Taipei after the two sides inked a landmark fishery deal in April.

In the absence of diplomatic ties, the agreements and memoranda of understanding were signed Tuesday by East Asian Relations Commission Chairman Lee Chia-chin and Mitsuo Ohashi, chairman of the Japan Interchange Association, at a hotel in downtown Taipei.

Ohashi said Taiwan is an “important partner and friend” of Japan in terms of economic and personal exchanges.

Lee said the five pacts open a new chapter in Taiwan-Japan relations. He also expressed hope they will sign at least three or four trade pacts before an economic partnership agreement is inked.

He said he would also like them to reach a framework agreement similar to the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between Taiwan and the United States, which Taiwan hopes will eventually lead to a full-fledged free trade agreement.

“Or better yet, both sides can directly start the talks on a free trade agreement or an economic cooperation or economic partnership agreement,” Lee said.

The five agreements and memoranda of understanding signed Tuesday deal with electronic commerce, cooperation on pharmaceutical regulations, railway cooperation, mutual recognition of patent priority claims, and air and maritime search and rescue.

The agreements on patent priority claims and search and rescue are the first of their kind involving Taiwan with any country.

The fisheries agreement reached in April allows Taiwanese trawlers to operate in part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

Since Tokyo recognized China in 1972, Japan and Taiwan have signed more than 35 accords and memoranda of understanding.

In recent years, the two sides have inked an investment pact, an open skies deal, a mutual recognition agreement on telecommunications equipment, and memos on strengthening industrial cooperation, accelerating the patent application process and preventing money-laundering.

Japan is Taiwan’s second-largest trading partner, after China, while Taiwan is Japan’s fifth-largest. Bilateral trade in 2012 totaled $66.5 billion, according to Taiwanese government figures.